Wonder drug cuts deaths.
100th patient saved by clot-busting injection
More lives are being saved, thanks to a clot-busting wonder drug used by paramedics on Tyneside at the scene of emergencies.
Heart attack patients now have better chances of surviving as paramedics from the North East Ambulance Service give out vital doses of powerful drug Tenecteplase.
The drug was previously only allowed to be given out by hospital doctors.
Since they started injecting the drug on scene around one year ago, more than 100 patients have survived heart attacks or severe cardiac damage.
Heart attack victim Thomas Cree, from Forest Hall, owes his life to the drug after collapsing at the beginning of February at the wheel of his car.
"I'm in no doubt this drug saved my life because I was able to get it straight away," said the 52-year-old grandfather-of-three.
"If I'd had to wait until I got to hospital to get it, things would've been very different today and I'm sure I wouldn't be here.
"After they had put the drug into my arm I felt much better and it took away a lot of the pain. It all seemed to work so fast."
Thomas had been driving wife Carol, 47, to work in Benton when he started to have crippling chest pains.
He pulled up outside Forest Hall Health Care and staff called 999.
Minutes later, paramedic Gail Stewart arrived on the scene and Thomas became the 100th patient to be given Tenecteplase by a paramedic.
"When I got to the scene Thomas was really poorly and he was passing in and out of consciousness," explained Gail, 31, from Killingworth.
"I hooked him up to the heart machine and it was clear he was suffering a heart attack so we gave him Tenecteplase through a drip for two minutes and you could see a difference almost instantly as his heart rate came down to a normal level."
The drug works to break up blood clots, allowing the blood to flow freely to the heart again.
After being given the drug, Thomas was taken to North Tyneside General Hospital and spent a week recovering there.
A third of all heart attack victims will die in the first hour if they do not get a hit of Tenecteplase.
"It makes a huge difference being able to administer this in the first few crucial minutes," added Gail.
"The longer the blood clot is there, the greater the risk of irreversible heart damage or death."
Karen Jordon, practice development co-ordinator for the Ambulance Service, said, "This means those patients who would have to wait until they arrived at hospital will receive lifesaving treatment much quicker and are likely to have increased recovery rates.
"Every minute of time saved before administering the drug is 11 days of their life saved."